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Bicycles on We’re Only In It For The Money?  
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jneomarvin
Joined: 2018-09-10
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Location: San Francisco
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Post 2018-09-10 22:40   [Quote] 
I was just watching the classic Steve Allen clip and noticed something I never had before. When young Frank runs the drumstick over the spokes of one of the bike wheels, the sound reminded me of something. Then I realized where else I’d heard it.

Near the end of The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny, right after the creepy laughter, these eerie mechanical croaking noises come in. I suspect Zappa was playing a double tracked call-and-response bicycle duet there. Does anybody else hear the same thing?
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epistrophy
Joined: 2008-08-11
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Location: London
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Post 2018-09-11 06:51   [Quote] 
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old_zircon
Joined: 2007-04-30
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Post 2018-09-11 12:41   [Quote] 
I think the sound may be similar, but I think the main difference between the two is that the instrument used in "The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny" (maybe a piano, as suggested in that other thread) seems to be tuned, while the bicycle spokes are not.
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polydigm
Joined: 2005-10-28
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Post 2018-09-11 16:51   [Quote] 
I imagine you could tune bicycle spokes by adjusting their tension by varying amounts. I'm going to try it myself and record some samples.

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jneomarvin
Joined: 2018-09-10
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Post 2018-09-11 20:28   [Quote] 
Sorry I hadn’t checked on the thread from nine years ago!

Maybe it is a prepared piano, but there is a sound on the Allen clip where he taps the wheel of the right-side up bike (the upside down one is more your traditional card on the spokes sound) and the pitches do seem to change. Also, Apostolic Studios seemed to offer an amazing array of effects that have never been used on any albums before or after. Wouldn’t be surprised if one of those electronic devices was involved.
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Mr_Green_Genes
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Post 2018-09-12 10:51   [Quote] 
It is so good to be a disciple and, just of reading what you are talking about, being able to hear the sounds in question in my head...

Yep, sounds like a prepared tuned percussion or prepared piano, to my mind's ears.

PS. after that arrogant assertion I felt the need to revisit the aforementioned sound, just to make sure.

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cookie_manager
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Joined: 2007-12-20
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Post 2018-09-12 21:08   [Quote] 
For me those tones sound microtonally "detuned". And they sound plucked to me (aren't there even plectrum noises going along with it?)

Both doesn't necessarily exclude a prepared piano, but I'd say it's something else.
Maybe this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7-dB-9ilzs
There's also models with the nails installed more in a row (instead of in a circle) - so... such a thing strummed with a plectrum?

polydigm wrote:
I imagine you could tune bicycle spokes by adjusting their tension by varying amounts. I'm going to try it myself and record some samples.
I guess that's a pain in the ass when you want to get anywhere near the 12-tone scale. Adjusting one spoke should just detune again a couple of others.

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oofers
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Post 2018-09-14 03:50   [Quote] 
cookie_manager wrote:
polydigm wrote:
I imagine you could tune bicycle spokes by adjusting their tension by varying amounts. I'm going to try it myself and record some samples.
I guess that's a pain in the ass when you want to get anywhere near the 12-tone scale. Adjusting one spoke should just detune again a couple of others.


This is true and it is why even the most experienced bicyclists who typically do their own repairs will leave the act of truing a wheel to an expert. It really is an artform unto itself. Adjustments with a spoke wrench are small and absolutely affect the tension of neighboring spokes.
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polydigm
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Post 2018-09-14 18:48   [Quote] 
Pain in the ass? Where’s your spirit of adventure?

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cookie_manager
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Post 2018-09-14 23:49   [Quote] 
If you're really going to try tuning bike spokes accordingly, please let us know the results. I'm sure approaching them with a "musical" ear will bring beautiful results anyway.

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polydigm
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Post 2018-09-16 02:40   [Quote] 
It depends on what kind of result you're after. I sampled a single hit of an empty jar with the butt end of a drum stick and using the ESX24 sampling plug in found in Logic Pro X created an instrument and then used it to play one of my melodies.


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McMick
Joined: 2015-06-26
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Post 2018-09-24 21:37   [Quote] 
That's pretty cool, it almost sounds like a steel drum.

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polydigm
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Post 2018-10-02 14:54   [Quote] 
Thanks for the comment - I must have missed it earlier.

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